Your USO at Work: The Newsletter of the USO (September 2011)
Kangaroo Express Hops on Fundraiser
The Pantry, Inc., the leading independently operated convenience store chain in the southeastern United States, kicked off its “Salute Our Troops” campaign on Memorial Day. The campaign invited customers in more than 1,600 Kangaroo Express convenience stores across 13 states to demonstrate support for military personnel and their families.
The goal was to raise $1 million between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but that goal was met in the early weeks of the campaign.
The overwhelming response so early in the campaign inspired more donations through the summer. Those donations will support the USO, Wounded Warrior Project, and state-based military support organizations that benefit soldiers and their families in five states, including USO North Carolina.
“We are awed by the generosity and positive response from our guests, employees and vendor partners to this summer’s ‘Salute Our Troops’ campaign. The growing enthusiasm and support to reach our goal so rapidly demonstrates how dedicated our communities are in supporting the men and women who serve our country,” said John Fisher, senior vice president of The Pantry.
The Salute Our Troops Jeep Tour will travel throughout the southeastern United States, honoring local military heroes and families along the route.
“Kangaroo Express and USO have something in common. We both like to offer service with a smile. We’re especially thankful to our friends at The Pantry for creating this summer-long campaign to support our service members and their families,” said Sloan Gibson, USO president. *
Fourth of July at the White House
President Barack Obama, who serves as honorary chairman of the USO, hosted the third consecutive Fourth of July USO concert for more than 1,200 troops, their families, and guests on the South Lawn of the White House. The concert featured first-time USO performers Train and Amos Lee. The “President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band was also on hand for the celebration.
In addition to the concert, troops and their families enjoyed a barbecue, family games, and a prime spot for viewing the National Capital fireworks display. The celebration also paid tribute to the United States as she turned 235, as well as the service and sacrifice of today’s troops and their families. *
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen conducted his 10th and final overseas USO entertainment tour between July 28 and August 3. He led an eclectic, star-studded, group of celebrities on this final tour including Hall of Fame forward Karl Malone, “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart -- joining the group for two days -- and illusionist David Blaine who entertained 4,000 deployed servicemen and women on the six-day tour to Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Mullen previously led nine USO tours to 13 different countries, lifting the spirits of more than 74,300 troops since his appointment in 2007. He also has enlisted the support of 38 USO tour veterans, including Robin Williams, Kid Rock, Lewis Black, Lance Armstrong, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Drew Brees, Bradley Cooper, Anna Kournikova, and David Robinson. He has visited Spain, Italy, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Germany, Ireland, Oman, Kosovo, the United Kingdom, Qatar, and Kyrgyzstan. *
Chips of Support
Pringles, a part of the Procter & Gamble family, teamed up with the USO this Fourth of July to bring troops a real taste of home. The brand provided more than 43,000 cans of Pringles to USO centers to be distributed to deployed troops around the world in appreciation of their service.
The Pringles were produced in the Jackson, Tennessee, plant where employees have many family members and friends serving in the military.
“We are a family at Pringles,” said Lisa Koester, human resource manager. “When one of our own is concerned about their loved ones, we all are. Providing our troops a taste of home is just a small way to remind [them] that we are thinking about them and appreciate all they do.”
Pringles also produced a video, “Pringles Supports Our Troops: A Little Taste of Home,” highlighting the stories of men and women who made the chips and the pride they had in producing the Pringles for the troops.
The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/pringles4uso. *
Buckland Joins Forces
When the curtain fell on CNN’s award-winning Larry King Live, so did it fall on Carol Buckland’s more than three decades in broadcast journalism.
During her career, the bulk of which was spent at CNN, Buckland helped inform the world through her involvement in the coverage of everything from news stories to movie reviews, politics, special events, and editorial research and preparation. During her tenure at CNN, she participated in two fellowships. The first gave her a front-row seat to observe the legislative process at work. The second took her to Japan where she examined the role of women in the news media.
But without the daily routine of bringing the news to the world, Buckland paused to consider the multitude of endeavors she could pursue to help fill her days.
“The end of Larry King Live and my departure from CNN left me with an abundance of free time as I pondered the ‘next act’ of my life,” she said. “Having done various types of volunteer work in the past, I wanted to return to that type of giving back.”
Buckland did just that. In April, she began vetting messages that supporters of the military shared through the Joining Forces program, of which the USO is a partner. It’s her first experience as a USO volunteer and, as a communicator by training, she’s grateful for the chance to help people communicate their gratitude and caring to the members of the military and their families.
“I have been sincerely moved by the many thousands of messages I’ve read,” she said. “The senders range from grade schoolers to long-retired veterans, from flag-waving American citizens to residents of other nations.”
And regardless of how long or short they are or what language they’re in, the messages convey an important message to our troops, Buckland said.
“The people who take time to send these messages want U.S. forces to know they are cherished, remembered and supported,” she said, adding that the writers’ sentiment always comes through loud and clear.
Buckland currently has relatives serving and her brother was a career Army officer. She said she hopes to continue volunteering with the USO to demonstrate her support of all those who serve. “I want to show my heartfelt appreciation and admiration by serving them in some way,” she said.
When she’s not volunteering for the USO she authors romance novels and bakes and decorates tempting sweets. *
The Royal Treatment
Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also known as William and Kate, took part in a care package assembling event at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles on July 10. In partnership with the USO and Blue Star Families, the Royal Couple helped create 1,000 “With You All the Way” deployment kits for military children.
Created by the Trevor Romain Foundation, the “With You All the Way” kits focus on the children of military families who have deployed parents, helping them prepare for deployment, stay connected during the separation, and plan for reintegration upon their return home.
Prior to the service project, the Royal Couple assisted ServiceNation: Mission Serve in conducting the organization’s largest job fair for military veterans called “Hiring Our Heroes Los Angeles.” The goal was to connect 1,500 veterans and their families with 200 prospective employers. ServiceNation: Mission Serve is a civilian-military initiative dedicated to bringing together civilian and military communities through service and volunteerism.
“The USO is extremely proud to be a partner in this very important effort to connect people who have served in the military, and their spouses, with potential employers,” said Frank Thorp, USO senior vice president for marketing and communications.
“Stuffing ‘With You All The Way’ deployment kits as the service project for the event was perfect as it also reminded us of the challenges that children of our troops make when their moms and dads serve.” *
UPCOMING EVENTS * V-J Day (Official Japanese Surrender WWII) is observed September 2 * Remember those lost September 11 * POW/MIA Recognition Day is September 16 * Wish Air Force Happy Birthday on September 18! * Operation Enduring Freedom began October 7, 2001 *